Former Lab Aide Sentenced to Life for Killing Boss' Husband in Acid Vat

A former lab assistant convicted of murdering his boss' husband was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Tuesday, despite several jurors' pleas that a judge grant him a more lenient sentence.

James Fagone, 25, of Clovis, was found guilty of first-degree murder for his role in the death of Timothy Schuster, 45, also of Clovis. Fagone and biochemist Larissa Schuster, 46, were arrested in 2003 after authorities found her husband's decomposed body in a barrel of acid.

Fagone also was convicted of burglary, but acquitted of kidnapping. He testified at his trial that Larissa Schuster poured gallons of hydrochloric acid over her husband's body after they knocked him out with chloroform and a stun gun.

Fresno County Superior Court Judge Wayne Ellison denied a defense attorney's request Tuesday to drop some of the charges, saying state law required him to impose a sentence that did not allow for the possibility of parole.

After Fagone's conviction in December, at least two jurors wrote the judge and said they were bothered that the law forced them either to issue a first-degree murder verdict or an acquittal.

Larissa Schuster also was charged with first-degree murder and faces trial this summer. Her attorney is seeking a venue change, saying publicity has made it hard to find a fair jury pool in Fresno County.